Celebrants play an increasingly important role in contemporary society. With less than half of New Zealanders claiming an affiliation to an organised religion*, many people are gravitating to celebrants to help them celebrate the milestones in their lives.

Our students are drawn to celebrancy for many different reasons, and bring a wealth of experience with them. But as with any profession, specific knowledge and finely-tuned skills are critical if you want to master the role.

The Celebrant School offers both a Certificate in Celebrant Studies comprised of three core modules, and a Diploma in Celebrant Studies, requiring two additional modules to broaden and deepen your understanding. As well as learning from experienced, practicing celebrants, you get the opportunity to build networks with your fellow celebrants, and be exposed to different cultures, ceremonies and styles.

If you’re looking for a qualification that provides you with in-depth knowledge, practical tips, and an opportunity to practise your skills in a safe environment, you’ve come to the right place. We recognise that students have busy lives, so all modules on the Certificate and the Diploma are offered on a part-time basis so you can fit study in around your other commitments. They are offered increasingly as distance learning with complementary intensive sessions Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, with dates listed here.

Programme Summary

The Certificate is made up of three modules, two of which are compulsory. You elect which specialist module you’d like to complete.

The Diploma extends your learning, and adds the two remaining modules. The Transition Through Change & Crisis Module is usually completed as part of the Diploma.

  • Ceremony & Celebration (recommended first module in Certificate)
  • Marriage & Civil Unions in one or two parts (specialist elective for Certificate)
  • Funerals (specialist elective for Certificate)
  • Transition Through Change & Crisis (specialist elective for Diploma)
  • Professional Practice (third and final module for Certificate)

All modules incorporate best-practice principles for working as a professional celebrant in Aotearoa-New Zealand. They include the Code of Ethics and the Professional Standards of the Celebrants Association of New Zealand (CANZ), and can be used as evidence in the VCANZ (verification) process.

The Modules

Ceremony and Celebration Module – Foundation Course

This is recommended as first module of the Certificate in Celebrant Studies. It establishes a firm understanding of the nature of ceremony and ritual and the role of the celebrant in Aotearoa-New Zealand, builds essential writing and delivery skills, and provides a framework for the planning and design of contemporary ceremonies beyond weddings and funerals.

Marriage and Civil Unions Module

This module is designed for those who wish to be professional marriage and civil union celebrants. It ensures a thorough knowledge of the legalities imposed by the Marriage Act and the Civil Union Act.

It develops writing skills and ceremony flow, and explores a spectrum of creative enactments that can be incorporated in contemporary ceremonies of commitment.

Funeral Module

This module is designed for those who wish to be competent to design and deliver ceremonies for funerals, burials, committal for cremation, scattering of ashes, memorials, unveiling of headstones and home funerals. It explores working with grieving families and interviewing for and writing engaging personal eulogies. This module offers an opportunity for continuing professional development for practicing celebrants who want to extend into this area.

Transition Through Change and Crisis

This module focuses on the design and delivery of ceremonies for transition through change and crisis – whether personal, family or community (e.g. illness, bereavement, abuse, infertility, separation and divorce, natural disasters etc). It is designed principally for those who have some experience as celebrants (or facilitators) and who wish to extend their practice into this area.

Professional Practice

This is the third module in the Certificate so all previously-developed ceremony design and delivery skills are given a final polish. We look more deeply at the cultural, historical, spiritual and social context of celebrancy in Aotearoa/New Zealand and how this complexity impacts on ceremonies for our diverse communities. Students also tangibly advance their own business practices, giving consideration to their office, marketing, professional and personal support systems.

Who is this training for?

Typically those undertaking this programme fall into one of three main groups:


  • Those who wish to train as celebrants for the major rites of passage in contemporary New Zealand society, particularly baby welcome and name giving, weddings and civil unions, and funerals.
  • Those who wish to use their celebrant skills to serve their family and community for life transitions and celebrations. These may include birthdays, anniversaries, reunions, coming of age, graduations, career changes, new directions, house blessings, etc.
  • Those working in allied professions (including social work, counselling, psychotherapy, teaching, nursing etc) who want to integrate the use of ceremony and ritual into their current work to assist and support life transitions.

Note: Only those who wish to work as a marriage or civil union celebrants are required to be registered / gazetted. This appointment process is entirely separate to training and is undertaken by Birth, Deaths, Marriages, Certification, Authentication and Translations (BDMCAT – the section of the Department of Internal Affairs which administers the Marriage Act). Details are available from www.bdm.govt.nz.

Our Graduates

Our programmes and teaching team are well-respected in the industry, but don’t take our word for it. Hear what our graduates have to say about us and the way we operate. Click here.